My mother had serious long-term depression. Can you guess why?

depression1 When I was ten years old, my mother had electric shock treatment.

The memory stands out in my mind like a beacon. And when my Dad brought her home, he took me aside and explained that my mama was not going to remember where things are for awhile, and we’d have to help her. That was especially true with the 4-legged sewing basket.

She eventually regained her memory. But she was never again the same bright and quick witted mother I used to have when I was younger.

Why was shock treatment done? To counter her mysterious ongoing and disabling depression. And this was her last option.

It didn’t work.

She lived on anti-depressants, specifically a high dose of Elavil, the rest of her compromised life.

And more than 40 years later, about a year after her death, a change in my own life with Armour helped me realize why she had to be dependent on an anti-depressant for so many years: Synthroid. My mother was on Synthroid almost her entire adult life—a medication, along with Levoxyl, Levothyroxine, Unithroid, Eltroxin, Levaxin, Norton, Eutrosig and Oroxine, which leaves nearly all patients with lingering hypothyroid symptoms, including one of the most common one: chronic on-going depression.

And a large body of doctors all around the world just don’t get it.

What brought this memory of my mother up in my mind? Because two days ago, I chatted with a gal on Synthroid. By all appearances, she seemed to be doing well, as some will make you think. She said she had enough energy, wasn’t losing her hair, and felt okay. But when I probed deeper, she admitted that her blood pressure was going too high (as happened to my mother on a T4-only med) and she had a problem with depression and was on Wellbutrin. Bingo.

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8 Responses to “My mother had serious long-term depression. Can you guess why?”

  1. Jen

    Hi, I am also sorry about your Mom’s struggle with depression.

    While I am in the midst of trying to find a helpful doc, I do relate on two levels- first, my mother overdosed at age 49 in 1996, when I was 21. She had alcohol & drug problems off and on. She was very moody also, but so unhappy.

    I began with depression in my teens and started on the first of (god knows how many) antidepressant & antidepressant ‘cocktails’ until last year, when I figured there had to really be something wrong, as not only was I depressed and unresponsive to every medication- I was getting sick nearly every week. I took myself off of Effexor, which as some people may know, is pure hell.

    I was tested for Hypo in February of this year (with the TSH btw) and when I started reading these lists of the terrible symptoms of hypo, I could not imagine WHY so many doctors & psychiatrists would not look for a Thyroid condition in chronic depressed patients. But I get it, it’s because the treatment for psychiatric illness is big business- there are new meds introduced EVERY year- I just saw a commercial for a new one, and the symptoms they describe are some of the same exact symptoms of Hypo. I am not saying that depression alone is not a serious issue, it so is.

    Many people are suffering needlessly- put on all these medications, and told by doctors they are bipolar, or ‘unresponsive’ to the psychotropics meds.

    I am sorry for rambling here, but when I know I am not living up to my full potential because of a very easily treated condition, and have spent so many years and thousands of dollars on meds and therapy that did not help, well to me there is something wrong here.

    I thank you for your site, and all the info you put out here, so that people can get the help that they desperately need.

    Thanks for listening, and I hope to be one of those ‘inspiring stories’ of someone who was finally able to get lifted out of this terrible depression through proper treatment.

  2. Ute

    I am very sorry to hear about your mom’s suffering. The oath says “First do NO harm” = this sure was totally ignored in your mom’s case….:-(

    I have a similar story about my mother in law. In her later years I suspected she may be suffereing from low thyroid function and encouraged her to talk to her doctor in Germany about it. I even gave her a note once to give to her doctor outlining why I thought she might have it and should be tested.

    Nothing was ever done. Then she was diagnosed with Alzheimers and low and behold 6 months after that some doctor finally found her low thyroid function.

    By the it seems it was too late to turn her around and who knows, they may have also treated her with the old standby drug – Synthroid.

    To this day I believe that the misdiagnosed Hypothyroidism eventually lead to her current condition. She’s in her own little world now and I hope from the bottom of my heart that she’s content there.

    On a side note, I think some of the true mental disorders may be caused by parasites. Parasites have been known to alter thinking in host species. It is quite possible that some humans might be affected that way too .

  3. Jan

    I just wanted to add that in our family we have generations of women who suffered depression, and bad health. Some of them were treated with T4 meds, some were not. My mother was sick for most all of my childhood with depression, moods, and host of other health problems all related to thyroid. She ended up with a historectomy, had gall stones, high cholesterol, the list went on. Not to mentions being 70 pounds overweight. Her weight yo yo-ed all over the place, he hair fell out and still they said nothing was wrong.
    She finally got synthroid 10 years ago, which didn’t do much. After I had my first child my thyroid went. It got worse with my second child. I then began to see the same symptoms in myself, that I had seen in my mother and grandmother and other family members. I also began to see them in my own daughter. She began suffering from depression and fatigue at age 11. Of course, no one wanted to believe us. I finally convinced her doctor to run labs and sure enough she had hashi’s. When my daughter was put on Armour, it changed her life. At 13 years old she no longer suffers hair loss, depression, fatigue etc. I put myself on Armour because I could not stand to be sick any longer. I now see a goiter in my mother and sister and we are working to get them on Armour. It is sad that in this modern day, people have to suffer from depression that is purely endocrine in nature. There is nothing wrong with our brains, it’s our thyroids.

  4. Laura

    I am sorry to hear of your mom’s struggles. My mother died when I was six yrs old and I believe she had thyroid problems too. She had all the classic symptoms: depression, overweight, etc. She ultimately died at age 47. We were all told a heart attack, but I’m not buying it. I brought her records to a cardiologist and he believes it was not a heart attack or heart disease. I know in my heart that it was (at least in part) her thyroid. It was back in the 70’s and women were all but neglected back then. Actually we are now. She had heart failure and I swear it had something to do with her thyroid. I can’t be sure but it kills me to think that it could have been avoided had she been treated properly. When I look at pictures of her, I swear she has a goiter. Maybe I’m crazy because I have been struggling with my hypothyroid issues for years. I don’t know. If all works out I will be on Armour come May. If not, my search for an understanding doc to save my life will continue.

  5. Loretta

    Sorry about your mother. She would be very proud of what you are doing today – remember that!

    I used to work in a Mental Health department years ago and it really saddens me to think about how many of these individuals who are presenting as “depressed” – and some that are actually in pyschiatric hospitals – might have undiagnosed thyroid disease and not need to be on these heavy duty psychotropic drugs that they are prescribed. I’ve often discussed this with the director of Mental Health in the county I work for, but of course, they don’t want to hear it. I just feel for some of these “lost” souls that are really suffering and all it might take is some Armour Thyroid, etc.., to get them to feel better. Sad.

    Anyway, keep up the good work! This website has helped me so much on my journey to good health. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m on my way.


  6. Dona

    I was taking Armor Raw Thyroid, and also had a hernia, and spastic colon all *stress related issues* but was given Zanex fot the colon and became addicted and when I flipped it was said to look like Bipolar. I fell for it and lost 13 years of my life and my children to the insanity that comes with psychotrophic drugs. I am healed and off the drugs and the merry go round that is *modern medicine* and last summer learned my thyroid was etreamely low, as was my Iodine, and am stil trying to regain my strenght.I had to request Armor Thyroid over Syntroid, and this should be taken with Vtm C
    What looks like depression, and almost all conventional medical doctors treat with mind altering drugs, for far too many is thyroid based, heavey metal poison based and has not roots in the brain; more the pockets of Big Pharma, and the God want bees= MDs with majors in psychiatrity. Many think a woman has no value after child bearing age. Woe are they!
    My NP told me in 2004 to consider EST as it had come along way! I just glared at her, and would never have considered it, and knew she was looney to even suggest it[she left her practiceand now teaches!]
    each and every thing must be eliminated before mediations are even consideed and I strongly suggest finding a Natruapath, and leaving the toxic drugs and aniquaited medical standards that are depriving far too many of us a long and healthy life. Research and ask around for personal insight, BEFORE you do anything,,,

  7. ibeji

    Dear Janie,
    I am very sorry about what happened with your mom.
    You must probably feel especially devastated by the fact that you discovered what might have prevented her premature death (and saved her from her illness) too late.
    I wish you healing from what I imagine must be an intense suffering for you.
    All my best wishes to you!
    P.S.: I think your mom would be very proud of you, seeing how much you give to other sufferers (thyroid patients) like her, through your advocacy. She certainly knows that what you are giving to us, was meant for her!

  8. ibeji

    Slightly off-topic:
    An interesting novel to read is Robert M. Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”.
    It appears from this book that the author has undergone electric shock therapy as well, in order to treat mental illness.
    And don’t worry, the book is not very technical and not so much about motorcycles, actually. It is more about philosophy and history (ancient greek), a story about father and son, a motorcycle trip through the Rocky Mountains, about ghosts of the past, and recovery.


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